Monday 20 August 2018

Provincial permutations: Munster picture still unclear as Tipperary cling to life

Tipperary manager Michael Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The new championship format in hurling has won plenty of admirers over the last few weeks, but perhaps the biggest endorsement of the revamped structure lies in the fact that all five of the teams in the Munster Championship are still in the hunt as the end comes into view.

The Leinster SHC is very different and has just one issue down for decision - the Kilkenny-Wexford game in Nowlan Park essentially acting as a provincial semi-final to see who joins the already-qualified Galway in the final.

However, the story down south is much less clear with two rounds still to play.

Limerick and Waterford still have two games left to play with the remaining three sides having a single game left to determine their championship fate.

Despite having failed to win in three outings, Tipperary could still find themselves in a Munster final.

They have to beat Clare this weekend to give themselves any chance and after that they'd need favours from elsewhere.

The Premier would need Waterford to beat Limerick on Sunday and the Déise to lose to Cork in their final match. They'd also need Clare to beat the Treaty men in their final game in Ennis.

It seems like a big ask but the way the championship has gone to date, it's difficult to rule anything out with certainty.

It's worth noting that even if Tipperary beat Clare it's not certain they will even take third spot and secure a preliminary quarter-final against one of the Joe McDonagh finalists.

A win there would put them on four points but if Limerick overcome Waterford and Derek McGrath's side see off the Rebels, the Treaty men would take top spot and three teams would be on four points.

In that scenario, scoring difference would come into play and that would be bad news for Michael Ryan and his Tipperary team with their scoring difference (-6) ahead of only Waterford (-9) in the table as things stand.

In the eastern province, Wexford and Kilkenny's clash will command all the attention meaning Dublin's date with Galway in Salthill is a dead rubber and will make little difference to the final standings.

After their defeat to the Dubs, Offaly are already condemned to Joe McDonagh Cup hurling for 2019.

Irish Independent

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